The most asked question I get when people find out I’m a chef is always, “what kind of knife do you like to use?”. It’s always hard to answer because honestly, I have around 25 different knives in my kitchen, and they all have different uses for me. I know that most people use one knife for everything, and there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re comfortable with! But, I am a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job, which is why having a variety of knives that are made for specific jobs in the kitchen makes good sense. But if you’re looking to expand your knife collection, here are the four basic knives that I think everyone should have in their kitchen!
1. Paring knife
A basic paring knife I feel is a must have. From peeling and cutting small fruits, to small slicing projects such as garlic and shallots, it really takes on the projects that are too small for a chef’s knife. Don’t rely on this to cut hard items such as celery root or carrots. It’s really meant for softer foods. From coring tomatoes to making slits in your pastry crusts, this is what you will love having around. You can get a really good and basic paring knife starting around $20 (here).
2. Serrated knife
Most people think a serrated knife is only for bread. Although it is definitely the best tool for slicing breads, it is also a great choice for cutting large and hard fruits such as pineapple, melons and slippery foods such as tomatoes. It’s also a great tool for slicing cake rounds and other baked goods. Don’t skimp on a good serrated knife. A good quality one can be found for $40-$50 (here).
3. Chef’s knife
This is of course the most important knife in your kitchen. It is so versatile. From mincing, to chopping to slicing and more. A chef’s knife is the workhorse. It can be used for vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, etc. There are many sizes to choose from, from 8 inch to 12 inch. When I was in culinary school, our chef’s always said to choose one based on your size/height. People may disagree with this, but I found it to make sense. Your hands, your height, your body type can all make a difference in what feels the most comfortable for you. How many times have I seen tiny cooks using huge knives and they just look so uncomfortable and clumsy! For me, I choose a 10 inch chef’s knife. I use it for almost everything. I also own a 12 inch chef’s knife, but I only use it for certain projects, and definitely feel more comfortable with the smaller size. I would recommend spending the most on this type of knife. You will use this knife 90% of the time and if you get a great quality chef’s knife, it will last forever. Plan on spending $100 or more (here).
4. Boning knife
A boning knife is a wonderful tool for cutting around bones in fish, pork and meats. It’s also good for trimming fat and cutting in between cartilage and joint in meats. A flexible boning knife will allow you to slice between skin and flesh, meat and bones and give you the leeway and flexibility to deftly filet meat and fish alike. Most people don’t own a boning knife, but I assure you that once you have one, you’ll wonder how you got along without it! A good quality boning knife will cost you around $50-$60 (here).
The other question I get asked most often is what brand of knives I use. Again, I can’t say! I have different brands and I love them all for different reasons. Of course I own some of the ones everyone has heard of.. Wüsthoff, Henckel and Global, but I also own an array of lesser known Japanese and French knives as well such as Shun and Sabatier. I am a believer in using the knife that feels the best in your hand. Don’t be afraid when shopping for knives to ask to hold a few different brands of the same type of knife. When you go to buy a knife, hold a few different chef’s knives in your hand and you will know which one feels right for you. Some people love Japanese knives more than German ones. It all depends on your personal preference and what you are going to use it for.
This is really just the beginning! When you start your knife collection believe me, it will be hard to stop buying more! To this day I want to buy more knives! It’s only Ludmilla that keeps me in check! lol Most of all, have fun and you will enjoy your knives for a lifetime!
Photos: Flickr, global knives.